In this latest article from Janice Kaspersen, from the Stormwater magazine, by Forester Network, one gets a look at “China’s sponge cities” and how they choose to rectify their water related problems of stormwater runoff and flooding.
You may have read recently about China’s “sponge cities.” They’re an approach to what we commonly call green infrastructure—an attempt to reduce flooding and infiltrate stormwater runoff in some of the areas most affected by rapid urbanization. China has spent $12 billion so far—with federal and local governments and private developers all contributing—in about 30 different cities to install measures such as permeable pavements, bioswales, green roofs, and wetlands.
Flooding has become a deadly problem in China, especially in major cities. As this Economist article notes, the country’s urban land has more than doubled in the last 20 years, and cities sometimes expand right into the floodplains. “All this is exacerbated by China’s often impetuous approach to urban planning,” the article continues. “When the planners in charge of Beijing designed its roads a few decades ago, for example, sunken underpasses were chosen over elevated interchanges for the reason that they seemed more appealing visually, as well as being cheaper to build. They have also, as it turns out, become a particular source of sodden misery. Beijing has 149 such underpasses in its urban districts. With inadequate drains and pumps, even a single heavy rain can turn them into swimming pools, bringing traffic to a halt in the process.”
One can view the rest of the article here.